“Captain America: The First Avenger”
By MICHAEL WALTERS
While the higher tier of superheroes are often tragically complicated figures full of mixed emotions, Captain America wears his square jawed simplicity on his chest as a badge of honor. He’s a B-Movie superhero and proud of it. That old-fashioned charm helps make “Captain America” more entertaining than it has any right to be.
Star Chris Evans spends the first part of the movie as a plaything of the special effects department as he’s transformed into a skinny asthmatic, but true hearted New yorker who dreams of doing his part for Uncle Sam during World War II but keeps getting the door slammed in his face. But once a german ex-pat scientist played by Stanley Tucci spots his wide eyed but true blue enthusiasm he uses his experimental syrum to turn this pint sized patriot into a muscle bound super soldier.
On his way to the front lines he’s turned into Captain America- a flag-waving piece of Made in The U.S.A. Propaganda that gets an appropriately amusing montage. Evans makes for a curiously bland hero. He’s all truth, justice and the American Way without much nuance. But the film seems to know that with his red, white and blue shield and unyielding patriotism it’s a little hard to take anything from Captain America seriously anyway.
Director Joe Johnston however infuses the film with the same bang-zoom enthusiasm he brought to “The Rocketeer” all those years ago. The action scenes are surprisingly zippy, and the special effects have an agreeably analog feel that fits right in with the old school settings.
The supporting cast filed with the likes of Tucci, Hugo Weaving (as a mad Nazi intent on harnessing the power of the gods for his own nefarious ends), and Tommy Lee Jones (as Captain America’s obligatory gruff commanding officer), provide the real spice to the production. However Jones seems a little embarrassed by it all. He seems to not be able to get off the screen fast enough after barking whatever gruff command the script calls of him.
I think it’s hard to imagine anyone really loving Captain America. But over the course of two hours I gradually began to like him.